San Antonio/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 18, 2024
San Antonio Council Considers Replacing Horse-Drawn Carriages with Electric, Pedicabs Amid Animal Welfare ConcernsSource: Google Street View

San Antonio's city streets might soon be clearing the path for modern traffic as council members weigh up phasing out horse-drawn carriages over concerns for animal welfare and environmental issues. The traditional mode of transport is facing its sunset, as council members including Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Phyllis Viagran, proposed the shift towards electric carriages and pedicabs. "There’s a lot going on that makes this a very outdated method of transportation," McKee-Rodriguez told the San Antonio Express-News, highlighting the harsh conditions the horses face with the city's hot climate and car exhaust.

Amid growing discontent for what some see as a quaint but impractical service, the council is setting its sights on a December deadline to transition away. This move harmonizes with a broader nationwide wave tackling animal rights issues and safety measures in densely populated areas. The San Antonio Report details that rather than an outright ban, there is still lee-way for operators to possibly reconstruct their businesses in parks or less congested areas. “Two-way streets in downtown does not make sense in 2024 in San Antonio, Texas,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg agreed, according to the San Antonio Report.

While some officials are ready to see the horses canter off into the sunset, carriage companies are bracing to hold their ground, emphasizing the high levels of care provided to the horses. "If we’re not here to do what we do to take care of the horses, these horses are going to end up being slaughtered," the owner of two carriage companies Stephanie Garcia stated in a San Antonio Express-News interview, expressing the dire consequences she foresees should the ban come into effect.

Council member Manny Peláez, who signed the policy change, bears sentiment echoing the concerns of many constituents who find the practice out of step with contemporary values. “I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘Gosh, I’m so happy that there’s horses pulling carriages downtown on really, really hot days.’ I’ve never heard anybody say that,” Peláez explained to the San Antonio Express-News. Advocates for the ban have also voiced issues with the horses being immersed in potentially dangerous urban conditions, a sentiment supported by Joanna Grossman, equine program manager for the Animal Welfare Institute, who contrastingly argued for the animals' preference for pasture lives, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

As this discussion takes the reins of city council agendas, the fate of San Antonio's horse-drawn carriages remains hanging in the balance.